Changes of the heartBy Wade Kwon
My old pal Erik heads out West tomorrow for a new future. Heâ€™s a shining example of the ripple effect, one pebble in our pond whose ripples continue to touch all around.
Erik has been synonymous with the homegrown film festival, one thatâ€™s been around since 1999. But I knew him way back when, back in the days of high school.
This is not a trip down memory lane.
Erik helped launch a film festival, along with other visionaries, dreamers and hard-working individuals who saw something more for downtown than closing storefronts and empty streets. Since then, the festival has become a living, breathing part of Birmingham culture.
It is his legacy.
This is not a tribute to that legacy.
Within that festival, local filmmakers came together as a community. Before, it is fair to say, they were loosely knit strangers with a common interest. Now, they network. They work on each othersâ€™ projects. They read each othersâ€™ scripts. They greet each other as fraternity brothers.
And in a small way, I am part of that community.
I donâ€™t shoot movies, nor do I have any aspirations to do so. My acting is limited to feigning interest in your small talk. I canâ€™t perform feats of audio engineering, nor can I light an indoor late afternoon shot.
I am virtually useless on set, save for doughnut runs and attending to fussy directors.
And yet, I have wormed my way in, into closed sets and open bars, into loft parties and special screenings. My friends are the filmmakers â€” I am merely a hanger-on.
This friendly and familiar lot donâ€™t question my presence. I am greeted as though I actually participate in moviemaking. I drink with them, I secondhand smoke with them. I even do their PR dirty work for money when called upon.
So I have a soft spot in my heart for film geeks. I would likely have met none of them if Sidewalk hadnâ€™t happened. This community has helped me become more comfortable talking to strangers, lying about movies and being myself.
And their ways have rubbed off on me. Last week, I found myself helping with a video shoot, adjusting the â€œsetâ€ (a conference room), working with the talent, praying the camcorder battery would hold out for one more shot. I slated the sound, coached the director, timed the scenes and cut the footage together.
Erik, I believe, would be proud.
He leaves tomorrow for the other side of the country. What he leaves behind is a place better than he found it.
And ripples through my life and many more.